As members of Cornell’s caring community, we each have a role to play in preventing and interrupting risky situations before it’s too late. Doing the right thing requires knowledge of what might be the right action and a willingness to step up and safely intervene when you see something is wrong.
What You Can Do
There are 7 Steps to an effective bystander intervention:
- Recognize the behavior
- Interpret behavior as a problem
- Feel a sense of responsibility
- Know what to do (or not do)
- Feel you have the ability to take action
- Perform a quick cost/benefit analysis
- Act (direct, distract, delegate, discuss)
So talk with your friends and decide how you will act if one of you recognizes risk and feels something should be done. Being prepared to act ahead of time will empower you to feel confident should you be confronted with an uncomfortable or risky situation. If you were at risk of being taken advantage of, what would you want someone to do?
Know what to do and how to do it. No one is ever expected to put themselves at risk during an intervention but in most circumstances, a small gesture can make a big difference in reducing risky outcomes. And no one has to act alone, although certainly there are times when swift, effective interruption can do a lot to change a situation.
Look to others to help you. If you notice something wrong, share your concern with a friend or others present. Ask them to help you approach the situation or decide who you should call in to help.
Consider the kinds of help you would want if something happened to you. Survivors of sexual violence report that friends and family do not always do or say things that are useful or supportive, and these unhelpful responses make coping with and recovering from abuse much harder. What would you want to hear if you disclosed something personal to a friend? Here are some suggestions for how to support a friend.
Know the resources. Become familiar with the resources for support available at Cornell and in the community so you’re prepared to offer assistance and referrals, if needed.
Call for help when necessary. Some circumstances require professional or additional intervention. Learn how to get help.
Intervene was produced here at Cornell and includes brief filmed scenarios demonstrating ways in which student bystanders can successfully intervene in problematic situations. Seven different situations are addressed, including sexual assault, sexual harassment, and intimate partner violence (emotional abuse).
Bystanders can make a difference in reducing unhealthy and harmful behaviors. If you see something that looks wrong or is potentially risky, act.